Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Visitation of Our Lady, May 31, 2005

1) The “truth of Mary” is: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk. 1, 45) [ John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater #12]. This truth, repeated three times by Luke, consists in Mary’s hearing the word of God in her heart and pondering it (Lk. 1, 29). Benedict XVI said,

“The word is kept in her memory; therefore she is a reliable witness for what took place. But memory requires more than a merely external registering of events. We can only receive and hold fast to the uttered word if we are involved inwardly. If something does not touch me, it will not penetrate; it will dissolve in the flux of memories and lose its particular face. Above all it is a fact that understanding and preserving what is understood go together. If I have not really understood a thing, I will not be able to communicate it properly. Only by understanding do I receive reality at all; and understanding, in turn, depends on a certain measure of inner identification with what is to be understood. It depends on love. I cannot really understand something for which I have no love whatsoever. So the transmission of the message needs more than the kind of memory that stores telephone numbers; what is required is a memory of the heart, in which I invest something of myself. Involvement and faithfulness are not opposites: they are interdependent…
Thus Mary becomes a model for the Church’s mission, i.e., that of being a dwelling place for the Word, preserving it and keeping it safe in times of confusion, protecting it, as it were, from the elements. Hence she is also the interpretation of the parable of the seed sowed in good soil and yielding fruit a hundredfold. She is not the thin surface earth which cannot accommodate roots; she is not the barren earth which the sparrows have pecked bare; nor is she overgrown by the weeds of affluence that inhibit new growth. She is a human being with depth. She lets the word sink deep into her. So the process of fruitful transformation can take place in a twofold direction: she saturates the Word with her life, as it were, putting the sap and energy of her life at the Word’s disposal; but as a result, conversely, her life is permeated, enriched and deepened by the energies of the Word, which gives everything its meaning. First of al it is she who digests the Word, so to speak, transmuting it: it but in so doing she herself, with her life, is in turn transmuted into the Word. Her life becomes word and meaning. That is how the gospel is handed on in the Church…”
(Josef Ratzinger, “Seek That Which is Above,” Ignatius [1986] 101-103).

2) The result of taking in the Word of God such that there is mutual transmutation of God into the ordinary life of Mary and the Church (and society) and Mary, the Church and ordinary life (society) into God - is the apostolate. Once the living Word of God, Who ultimately is a Person, is actively received by gift of self, one is, so to speak, driven out of oneself to serve the other. This is the very dynamic of the Trinity. This is the ontological constitution of the Person of Jesus Christ, and this is the result of the entry of Christ into the lives of those who know how “to hear.” As St. Josemaria Escriva said: “You cannot separate the fact that Christ is God from his role as redeemer.” Joseph Ratzinger did the metaphysics of this. He wrote:

“The Creed… formulates its faith in Jesus in the quite simple phrase `and (I believe) in Christ Jesus.’ The only striking thing about it for us is that, as in St. Paul’s preferred form of words, the word Christ, which was originally not a name but a title (`Messiah’), is put first [though not in the usual English version]. It can be shown that the Christian community at Rome, which formulated our Creed, was still completely aware of the significance of the word’s content… `Christ’ is still used as the definition of what this Jesus is… For what faith really states is precisely that with Jesus it is not possible to distinguish office and person; with him, this differentiation simply becomes inapplicable. The person is the office, the office is the person. The two are no longer divisible. Here there is no private area reserved for an `I’ which remains in the background behind the deeds and actions and thus at some time or other can be `off duty;’ here there is no `I’ separate from the work’ the `I’ is the work and the work is the `I.’” (Introduction to Christianity, Ignatius [1990] 149).

In a word, TO BE = TO-BE-FOR. And this is the reason it is so difficult to understand Benedict XVI and John Paul II. The object they are talking about is not an object but a Subject, a Person, who is not reducible to an object and therefore able to be symbolized by categories or symbols of created things. Hence, we stammer conceptually, and really come to grips with the reality of the Person of Christ, and therefore the Father only in the experience of them as consciousness – which we do all the time we are in the presence of love and beauty. There’s lots of light, and we experience it if we give ourselves, but it is a dark conceptual night. Yet it is communicable if we walk people through it. Then we can explain it conceptually since they will be ready to reflect on their own experience and consciousness.

3) Therefore, Benedict XVI, at the inauguration of his pontificate, said,

“Dear friends! At this moment there is no need for me to present a programme of governance…. My real programme of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that He himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history.”
4) And this is what is meant by the “New Evangelization.” On another occasion, Benedict said:

“Human life cannot be realized by itself. Our life is an open question, an incomplete project, still to be brought to fruition and realized. Each man’s fundamental question is: How will this be realized – becoming man? How does one learn the art of living? Which is the path toward happiness?
To evangelize means: to show this path – to teach the art of living. At the beginning of his public life Jesus says: I have come to evangelize the por (Lk. 4, 18); this means: I have the response to your fundamental question; I will show you the path of life, the path toward happiness – rather: I am that path.
The deepest poverty is the inability of joy, the tediousness of a life considered absurd and contradictory. This poverty is widespread today, in very different forms in the materially rich as well as the poor countries. The inability of joy presupposes and produces the inability to love, produces jealousy, avarice – all defects that devastate the life of individuals and of the world.
This is why we are in need of a new evangelization – if the art of living remains an unknown, nothing else works. But this art is not the object of a science – this art can only be communicated by [one] who has life – he who is the Gospel personified…
…we can see a progressive process of de-Christianization and a loss of the essential human values, which is worrisome. A large part of today’s humanity does not find the Gospel in the permanent evangelization of the Church; that is to say, the convincing response to the question: How to live?
That is why we are searching for, along with permanent and uninterrupted and never to interrupted evangelization, a new evangelization, capable of being heard by that world that does not find access to `classic’ evangelization. Everyone needs the Gospel; the Gospel is destined for all and not only for a specific circle and this is why we are obliged to look for new ways of bringing the Gospel to all.
Yet another temptation lies hidden beneath this—the temptation of impatience, the temptation of immediately finding the great success, in finding large numbers. But this is not God’s way… An old proverb says: `Success is not one of the names of God’”
(J. Ratzinger, “Immediately Finding Great Success… Is Not God’s Way,” June 23, 2001, during the Jubilee of catechists in the year 2000).

5) And this is the import of Our Lady’s Visitation to Elizabeth.

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